SWING SHIFT

Published January 28, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Wonder of wonders, I’m back for another round. 😉 It must be the lure of those fifty extra words. Here are the simple directions:

Today, Pegman visits Buffalo, NY.  Thanks to Prior for this week’s location.

Feel free to stroll around using the Google street view and grab any picture you choose to include in your post.

To enjoy stories inspired by the What Pegman Saw prompt or to submit your own 150-word story, visit the InLinkz button:

For guidelines and rules for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing prompt, visit the home page.

Many thanks to K Rawson for hosting.

ivy-street-in-buffalo

The following story is a rework of an old story. I thought perhaps the addition of fifty words might help it along. I also think this one will be lengthened at a later date. Still rolling it around my head.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 150

SWING SHIFT

            On Black Tuesday Pop lost his Wall Street job.

             He sold everything of any value except Mom’s prized antique vase, our phonograph and his clarinet.

            We moved from our Park Avenue apartment to a shabby house in Buffalo. Pop found employment as a night janitor.   

            One Sunday afternoon, drawn by phonograph music, I wandered into his room.  Hunched over, he held a gun to his temple.

            I screamed and knocked it from his grasp.

            It discharged. The bullet ricocheted off the wall, whizzed through my hair and shattered Mom’s vase.

            “Forgive me.” He crushed me against his chest. “I’ve forgotten what’s really important.”   

            After that Pop found solace playing his “licorice stick.” He delighted our neighbors at backyard barbeques.

            At Mom’s urging, he auditioned for a local swing band. From 1935 to 1962 they toured the Borscht Belt.

            His zest for life was contagious.

            Incidentally, Mom never mentioned her vase.           

 

Borscht Belt

Probably not Pop’s band, but thrown in for flavor.

45 comments on “SWING SHIFT

  • This is a great American story. Buffalo is a city replete with ghosts. Well done.

    Krupa and Goodman were both born in Chicago, but the great jazz guitarist Jim Hall hailed from Buffalo, as did the wonderful drummer Mel Lewis. I do know that Goodman cut his teeth playing Klezmer at Bar Mitzvahs and Catskills hotels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear J Hardy,

      My dad grew up and lived in Brooklyn until WWII when he was one of the first draftees. He introduced me to swing and the Big Band Sound. I also had an uncle who was an artist and ran an employment agency in the Catskills. What I wouldn’t give to hear Goodman play Klezmer. 😉 (Another favorite of mine.)

      Thank you re my story. Glad you enjoyed. It was fun to revisit and expand it.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for sharing the prompt. It adds a new layer of fun for our fiction writing group, Team Netherworld, which is working on multiple projects.
    I enjoyed your story as well. Although I’m from the West, I have relatives from the Borscht belt. They aren’t quite sure what to make of this out and proud lesbian gal who wears cowboy boots and drives a beat-up pickup truck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Thalia,

      The Pegman challenge is fun and I’m enjoying the freedom of choosing a prompt from the Google buffet. 😉
      My dad, raised in Brooklyn, while never a performer himself, cut his teeth on Vaudeville and the Borscht Belt. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.
      (My folks never knew what to do with this little moccasin and bell-bottom wearing hippie.)

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Great story, Rochelle. I actually had a similar event in my family concerning a possible suicide of a family member. It turned out with a happy ending as well. And what memories this picture brings back from a trip I made to Buffalo (when still very young) to visit an Aunt and Uncle. Something in that picture makes me feel like I was in that neighborhood. I had a wonderful time there and still remember some special places and events that were unique to that city. And swing music is in my soul. My dad loved it, so I literally grew up on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra,

      This story has no basis on fact as far as my family goes. I wasn’t around during the Great Depression. I grew up hearing lots of stories about it since my parents were in their early twenties then. My dad also loved swing music so I grew up on it, too. I still adore the music and movies of the thirties and forties.

      Thank you re my story. Glad you liked it and took the time to say so.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

    • Dear Karen,

      I’ve had it suggested that it could be a novel. Something to think about. At the very least a few thousand words short story.
      The fifty extra words are enticing, particularly when it comes to some of those stories that I’ve thought about expanding. 😉 Not to mention the Google buffet of prompt photos.
      Thank you for stopping to read and comment. Keep up the good work with the challenge.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • This scene reminds me of the lines in a song:
    “and a shudder came over my being as i thought what a moment might cost…”
    Hard to say how long he sat there contemplating, but who knows what might have happened, had she been a moment later.
    So good we writers can control our characters like that. You did a great job of making me gasp and hope for better days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • My Grandpa lived in a small house in a blue collar neighborhood in Omaha. Those years when we lived nearby (my Dad was in the Air Force, so we moved a lot), I remember visiting. He had an old black and white TV, and I remember playing on the floor on a throw rug while he watched boxing matches and smoked a pipe.

    I learned to tie my shows in that house. My uncle had a electric train set sitting on a large work table in the basement. He was in college studying to be an engineer and I watched him work out problems on a blackboard with chalk.

    My Mom had a bunch of books in the basement from when she was little, including stories of the Long Ranger, and one about a female reporter who turned invisible when she touched a certain nerve in her wrist.

    My Grandpa died when I was 16 years old and all that came to an end. Money cannot buy the joy I experienced in that humble little house.

    Liked by 1 person

  • the story is good and I can see why you might add more later.

    however, one caveat –
    if this takes place from

    1935 to 1962
    well Buffalo was not necessarily boarded up as it is in the image you chose. or was this a flashback image?

    It was always cheaper than Park Avenue – but people forget that Buffalo was a desirable town to reside in prior to the 1970s….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Prior,

      Those are all good points. “Shabby” was by comparison to what they’d been used to in Park Avenue. As for the picture…I never use a prompt as a literal illustration, merely an inspiration. So it wasn’t my intention that the house was the one in the story.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you liked my short tale.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • well thanks for the comment – and I see how you write.
        I am new to the flash fiction groups and it is learning experience for me….and also fun because for quite a while I have seen dawn and others join in – so this is long overdue to participate –
        and I loved your tale and the interesting boarded up home you chose….

        Like

        • I chose the photo and then went from there. I’ve often been asked, “How on earth did you get that story from that photo???” Often I start with something in the photo like “history of the light bulb” and the thread might take me to some obscure person in history who did something magnificent that no one remembers. (just an example) the light bulb never took me anywhere. 😉
          That’s why I always post the Thoreau quote in Friday Fictioneers, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

          Liked by 1 person

  • It is so very ironic to me, that today, I met up with a cousin, who I haven’t seen in 25 years or more for lunch.
    His dad, my uncle, unfortunately, did not have anyone there to stop him on his darkest day.

    Wonderful story, thank you for reminding us of the ‘important’ things.

    – Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Neel,

      It still amazes me when someone tells me I’m a storyteller. The first time was from an older and somewhat celebrated author at a writers’ crit group years ago. I was terrified to read a chapter from my then fledgling novel in front of her. As we left that evening, she stopped me on the way to our cars and said, “Honey, in this lifetime there are few true storytellers. You are one of them.” Forgive me the lengthy digression, but I feel the same awe and wonder in your compliment. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • What a great combination of image, music and words – one helping to bring the others to life. A chilling experience for your narrator – if her arrival in the room had been just a few moments later … Nicely told piece of history – fascinating to learn a little about the Borscht Belt!

    Liked by 1 person

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